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Globalised rebellion: the Darfur insurgents and the world*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 May 2013

Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert*
Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), P.O. Box 9229 Grønland, NO-0134 Oslo, Norway
David Lanz*
University of Basel, Gellertstrasse 27, P.O. Box, CH-4020 Basel, Switzerland


This article is concerned with the rebellion in Darfur as a way to illustrate the politics of insurgency in the era of globalisation. We first show how the Darfur rebels have projected their struggle onto the world stage, before examining the effects that this has engendered. On the one hand, Darfur's global profile solidified the rebels' cause and co-opted international actors in support of it. This translated into real leverage for the rebels, and it constrained the Sudanese government by reducing its ability to use brute force. At the same time, internationalisation encouraged the Darfur rebels to make maximalist demands at the expense of articulating a broader political vision addressing the root causes of conflict. Moreover, the substitution of local legitimacy for international connections lowered the barriers of entry for new groups and thus promoted fragmentation. The combination of these effects makes for intractable conflict scenarios, the current situation in Darfur being a case in point.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

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The authors are grateful for the useful feedback provided by participants of a panel at the 2011 European Conference on African Studies in Uppsala, where an earlier draft of this article was presented. They also thank Øystein H. Rolandsen and Didier Péclard for their helpful comments. The views expressed here solely represent the personal opinions of the authors. Research for this article was completed in summer 2012 and it benefited from the support of the Doctoral Programme on ‘Global Change, Innovation and Sustainable Development’ associated with the NCCR North–South program of the Swiss National Science Foundation.



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Newspapers and Periodicals

BBC News (London); Le Monde (Paris); Libération (Paris); New York Times (NYT, New York); New Yorker (New York); Reuters News (London); Toronto Star (Toronto); Wall Street Journal (New York).


Abdel Wahid al-Nur, Paris, 14.3.2007

Norwegian People's Aid representative, Juba, 27.11.2007

Haydar Ibrahim, Khartoum, 6.12.2007

Student affiliated with one of the rebel movements, Khartoum, 13.11.2009

Representative of the Save Darfur Coalition, Washington DC, 5.3.2010

Representative of the Save Darfur Coalition, Washington DC, 8.3.2011

Suliman Baldo, New York, 24.3.2011

Member of SLM, London, 15.4.2011

Ahmed Diraige, London, 18.4.2011

International journalist, Switzerland, 4.11.2011

Member of JEM, London, 17.11.2011

Philip Cox, London, 18.11.2011

Abdullahi Osman El-Tom, Maynooth, Ireland, 21.11.2011

Foreign correspondent, Phone interview, 1.12.2011